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Originally published Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Top NBA rookie debate is no debate, coach says

To ask P. J. Carlesimo, the Rookie of the Year debate is a media-generated non-story. "Anybody who thinks there is, is nuts," he said. "It's not even remotely...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wednesday's game at a glance

Player of the game: Washington reserve guard Roger Mason tied a career high with six three-pointers and finished with 22 points. He sank 8 of 13 shots, including 6 for 9 behind the arc in 22 minutes.

Turning point: The Sonics led 73-56 with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter but scored just two points to end the period and Washington cut the lead to 75-68 to start the fourth.

Key statistic: The Wizards drained 10 of 28 three-pointers, and the Sonics were 1 of 9.

Up next: Charlotte, 7:30 p.m. Friday at KeyArena.

To ask P.J. Carlesimo, the Rookie of the Year debate is a media-generated non-story.

"Anybody who thinks there is, is nuts," he said. "It's not even remotely close."

The Sonics coach sees just one serious candidate: Kevin Durant.

"I'm trying to be objective listening to people, but it's silly to even have the conversation," he said. "I'm prejudiced, but it's not even close. No one has done what he's done. No one has even come close to doing what he's doing."

Some NBA observers, including TNT analyst Charles Barkley, have made a case for Atlanta forward Al Horford, and Houston coach Rick Adelman said Rockets forward Luis Scola deserves consideration. Others suggest the ROY winner should be given to someone on a winning team, and the Sonics' 17-54 record hurts Durant's chances.

Carlesimo believes Durant's peers are not rookies, but rather the game's best players.

"The people you compare Kevin to are Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron [James] and people like that," he said. "He's shooting a better percentage right now than LeBron shot or Kobe when they were rookies."

Before Wednesday's 104-99 defeat against Washington, Durant averaged 20.9 points on 52 percent shooting in March.

For the season, he's averaging 19.6 points, which is tops among rookies. Los Angeles Clippers forward Al Thornton is next at 11.7 and Memphis' Juan Carlos Navarro, at 11.1, is third. Horford is averaging 9.7 points and Scola 9.6.

Durant is staying out of the ROY argument. If he had to choose someone other than himself, he'd pick Horford.

"That type of stuff, you can't worry about it," Durant said. "You just got to play the game and let your game talk for you."

Waiting on trial

The Sonics have yet to send renewal packages to season-ticket holders, but Bryan Byrnes, senior vice president of ticketing and sales, said it's not uncommon.

"We will communicate directly with our season-ticket holders regarding their renewal options," he said. "At this time we believe the prudent approach will be to wait until the outcome of the trial before engaging in renewal discussions. The timing will have no impact on their status or seat priority."

The team is being sued by the city of Seattle to play the final two years of its KeyArena lease in Seattle. Sonics chairman Clay Bennett has petitioned the NBA to move to Oklahoma City as soon as next season.

Despite the uncertainty, the Sonics are working with the league and city officials, who manage KeyArena, on a 2008-09 schedule in Seattle.

"Until something changes, we are continuing with our business planning for next season at KeyArena," Byrnes said.

Notes

Chris Wilcox, who has missed four games because of a right pinkie sprain, visited a hand specialist on Wednesday and will speak with his agent tomorrow before making an announcement on his future. The Sonics forward is considering sitting out the final 11 games.

• Microsoft mogul Steve Ballmer, who is one of four local investors wanting to buy the Sonics and help renovate KeyArena, sat courtside between the Washington Wizards bench and KJR-AM talk show host Mitch Levy.

• Durant and Storm forward Sheryl Swoopes will conduct a basketball clinic after Friday's Charlotte game.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

WASHINGTON
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Butler 43:03 8-16 3-4 1-5 9 4 21
Jamison 38:56 6-17 5-5 2-12 4 3 17
Haywood 34:52 6-10 1-1 3-7 1 1 13
Daniels 39:10 2-6 3-3 0-2 2 3 7
Stevenson 28:56 3-11 3-3 1-1 3 4 11
Songaila 20:18 4-5 2-2 1-3 2 2 10
Mason 21:54 8-13 0-0 0-2 1 3 22
McGuire 4:57 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 1 1
Blatche 1:54 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Young 6:00 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Totals 38-82 18-20 8-32 22 21 104
Percentages: FG .463, FT .900. Three-point goals: 10-28, .357 (Mason 6-9, Butler 2-5, Stevenson 2-7, Daniels 0-1, Young 0-1, Jamison 0-5). Team rebounds: 7. Team turnovers: 9 (16 PTS). Blocked shots: 6 (Haywood 2, Jamison 2, McGuire, Songaila). Turnovers: 9 (Butler 5, Stevenson 2, Haywood, Songaila). Steals: 11 (Jamison 4, Butler 3, Daniels 2, Haywood, McGuire). Technical fouls: Daniels, 8:37 third.
SEATTLE
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Green 40:57 4-13 5-6 1-3 2 3 13
Collison 40:32 3-10 3-4 6-21 5 4 9
Petro 18:15 5-6 0-0 2-5 0 4 10
Watson 30:54 4-10 2-2 2-4 6 0 10
Durant 39:01 13-22 5-5 2-7 1 2 32
Elson 16:46 2-4 1-2 0-3 0 1 5
Wilkins 24:50 5-11 3-4 2-2 3 1 13
Marshall 11:39 1-5 0-0 1-4 0 0 2
Ridnour 17:06 2-4 1-1 0-0 1 1 5
Totals 39-85 20-24 16-49 18 16 99
Percentages: FG .459, FT .833. Three-point goals: 1-9, .111 (Durant 1-2, Green 0-1, Watson 0-1, Wilkins 0-2, Marshall 0-3). Team rebounds: 8. Team turnovers: 13 (20 PTS). Blocked shots: 2 (Green, Marshall). Turnovers: 13 (Watson 3, Collison 2, Durant 2, Green 2, Petro 2, Ridnour, Wilkins). Steals: 6 (Green 2, Durant, Marshall, Petro, Wilkins). Technical fouls: None.
Washington 29 21 18 36 — 104
Seattle 23 33 19 24 — 99
Attendance: 10,497 (17,072). Time: 2:04. Officials: Jim Clark, Jack Nies, Eric Lewis.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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